What does it mean to be a doer of the word? And if we are supposed to be doers of the word, what about being saved by grace? Let’s remember a little of what we learned yesterday. Yesterday we understood that God’s word is His will spoken and therefore manifested; it is His desire expressed and come to be. His will for us is sanctification (conforming to the image of Jesus Christ), He wants us to be in an intimate relationship with Him, and He wants good things for us (1 Thessalonians 4:3, Hosea 6:6, Jeremiah 29:11). Jesus saves us and changes us dramatically but He does that only with our acquiescence to His will. It is an active and deliberate choice on our part to submit to His word.
Verses 19- 21 read,
Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; 20 for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. 21 Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.
Surrender to God’s will for us begins with the choice to feed the Spirit and not the flesh. We choose to show God’s lordship by listening to and deferring to the teachers He has given us, including Him. We consider before we speak or react, and without pride. Anger although not a sin, if allowed to stew will result in sin. We can choose our thoughts. We do have control of our minds. Philippians 4:8-9 reads,
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. 9 What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.
If something is angering us, is it because it is affronting our pride, because we are envious, or because we prefer the lie to the truth? It is a choice to submit to The Holy Spirit and let Him implant His word in us, teach us, and grow His word to fruition. It is a choice to think about what would lead us to anger or what would lead us to obedience to God (2 Corinthians 10:5). Verse 22 reads,
But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.
The term for word here is logos. It is a spoken intention and calculation including the reasoning, the knowledge behind what is said; it is communication. It is also the divine expression of Christ. Jesus Christ is referred to as the Word of God, because He is God’s will made flesh. John 1:1-5 describes Jesus as the Word.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4 In him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
So we are not merely to hear the truth, the message from God, the Gospel. We are to do the word, to take it to heart and obey it. If we merely hear it and don’t make God’s will part of our identity by submission to it then we can’t really say Jesus is our Lord, we’re affecting Christianity not living it. Pretending to be a Christian, will never make us like Jesus. That transformation takes The Holy Spirit in us. Verses 23-25 read,
For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. 24 For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. 25 But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.
In other words, if instead of doing the word by allowing the Holy Spirit to work in us and surrendering our will to God’s (choosing His will over ours) we pretend to be changed and changing, we will not transform. Pretenders don’t understand the law of liberty, enacting Jesus’ love. They can only try and follow rules that make them appear Christian. It would be like looking at ourselves in the mirror but not ever understanding who we really are. The hearer or pretender attempts to look Christian by following the law. The doer lives out the Word in his heart. He lives the truth, the love, and the liberty of the Gospel. He loves others. Pretending to be Spirit-filled cannot and will not result in sanctification. It results in the person’s own glory and no one, including the pretender is saved by the pretense.
James is saying that if one is actually saved, he did more than hear that Jesus is Christ, he believed it, took it to heart, and made Jesus his Lord. He lives out the word to love one another, not out of obligation but out of the abundance of his new and changed heart. Romans 10:8-10 says,
But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); 9 because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.
We can fool ourselves into believing we are Christians; but we can’t fool God and we can’t fool others for long. If the Word is in our hearts, we will express Him, proclaim Him Lord, and live out His love. Verses 26-27 read,
If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person's religion is worthless. 27 Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.
Believer, are you quick to hear but slow to speak? Do you bridle your words and let God’s word be planted into your heart to grow? Or have you fooled yourself into believing that you are saved because you pretend? Are you waiting for the miracle of transformation but it has not happened yet? God will not force His will on you, you have to give up your desires and live out His. The transformation shows. The fruition of God’s word shows because you will love people the way Jesus loves. Jesus’ beneficence will be enacted by you as you hear and do the word of God.